SLPP fights to avoid disintegration , as opposition set to capitalize

 

Wednesday September 14, 2005

The ruling Sierra Leone’s People’s Party ( SLPP)  is said to be involved in frantic behind-the -scenes efforts to avoid disintegration as supporters of the opposition All People’s Congress ( APC )  look to be making moves to capitalize on the schisms to build solid support for the 2007 General Elections.

Well-informed sources in the Sierra Leone capital of Freetown told COCORIOKO  last evening that only a miracle will stop the SLPP from splitting into two different entities. According to the sources,  Charles Margai, the son of one of the founding fathers of the party and former Prime Minister, Sir Albert Margai, has set his face firmly against reconciliation ,like a flint.

Reports said that top brass of the SLPP have been burning the telephone wires and also sending emissaries to Margai to persuade him to accept the olive branch offered by Vice-President Solomon Berewa, whose victory in the votes for Party Leader and Presidential candidate during the SLPP  delegates Convention in Makeni almost two weeks ago sparked the threatening split.

SLPP supporter John Fomba told COCORIOKO  yesterday that the party was desperate to stop Margai from reaching the people with his grievances to avoid reinforcing apprehensions about a pending split in the party . Fomba said that the SLPP  had to project a united front to the people. However, it appears as if Charles Margai had different ideas as he went on with his plans to consult with the people . Initial reports say that Margai has received tremenduous support in the provinces where fans encouraged him to form a new party.

However, within the very SLPP,  even some members who frowned at the manner of Berewa’s victory are said to be uneasy with Margai. A report relayed to this newspaper  by our correspondent Olu Faulkner , spoke of feelings within the party to the effect that Margai had some  preconceived notions that will not only hurt him but the party’s interest will be jeopardized.

According to Faulkner,  some SLPP supporters charge that Margai has an  “All-or nothing ” attitude  about the leadership of the country . .He is accused of  believing  that nothing else is good for him but to become President . Faulkner said  that he heard some SLPP supporters commenting that Margai’s ambition to be SLPP party leader and President was so intense that if he pursued it to the wire he would end up causing the party’s defeat in the elections in 2007. ” As I said earlier “, Faulkner went on, “Many SLPP supporters do not like the way Berewa won the votes , but at the same time they want Margai to pursue reconciliation in the interest of the party and the nation .They believe that it will not serve Margai’s best interests  or that of the SLPP’s if he splits the party .”

As a manifestation of the fact that Margai’s quest does not have unanimous support , COCORIOKO  learnt yesterday that the late Prime Minister’s son does not even have the support of some of the losing  SLPP Leadership candidates .John Leigh, who was allegedly approached to join the provincial tour where the defeated members would consult with party members about their next move, opted out, saying that he was not going to join forces with Margai. Infact, according to unconfirmed reports, Leigh is flying back to the USA  today to give himself time to reflect better on the situation and choose better options short of quitting the SLPP.

Another losing candidate, former junta leader Maada Bio , has not come out openly to embrace plans for a new party, as at the time of filing this story. Bio , who surprisingly performed nearly as better as Margai in the votes, may be looking forward to  other options as well, but Faulkner stated yesterday that the situation may change. For now, Margai is on theprovincial tour with former Finance Minister, J.B.Dauda and Abubakarr Kamara, all of whom were defeated  by Berewa during the September 4 votes.

APC supporters , meanwhile, are said to be jubilant over the SLPP’s troubles . Any split within the SLPP which will bring another party into existence, will benefit the APC ,but again the APC  too is  riven by feuds and law suits and some neutralists have said that it must put its house in order to be able  to capitalize on the SLPP’s  problems.

COPYRIGHT. COCORIOKO 2005

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